Ministers McHugh and Mitchell O’Connor allocate €23 million in funding under the new Higher Education Innovation and Transformation Fund

The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. and Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D. today announced that 22 projects across 23 educational institutions have been awarded a total of €23 million under the new Innovation and Transformation Fund.

The fund was launched in 2018 as part of the modernisation and reform of the funding model for higher education.

It is also part of the €250 million additional investment by the Government in higher education since 2016, bringing total funding to more than €1.7 billion.

The 22 successful projects embody collaboration and innovation across the higher education sector and focus on transformation.

Minister McHugh said: “This €23 million fund is being used to reward and support higher education institutions that are coming up with innovative ideas to attract people to third level and those that are doing more to create flexible options for learning.

“The Government has recognised we need to do more to open up third level education and now we are backing that cause by providing millions in funding for the right initiatives.”

The 22 funded proposals include partnerships amongst the eight universities, ten institutes of technology, two specialist colleges, one Further Education College and five other state and non-state bodies.

Some of the projects will see third level institutions partnering with organisations such as An Cosán, Family Carers Ireland and the Disability Federation of Ireland to learn and adopt better ways of ensuring education is open to as many people as possible.

Some projects will focus on developing digital systems to enable more flexible learning, including through online options and simulation training.

Other projects are focusing on student mental health, supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups, student retention, leadership and preparing students for the working world.

Mr McHugh added: “These Government-supported initiatives will create new opportunities and help to position Ireland’s education system as a leader in inclusiveness, diversity and flexible models of education and lifelong learning.”

The Innovation and Transformation Fund opened with a call for proposals by the Higher Education Authority in 2018. Applications were assessed by an independent panel.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “Innovation and discovery is what our higher education institutions do best – and this fund will enable them to invest in new ideas to improve students’ experiences, enhance student learning and harness technology and new thinking for the benefit of our current and future students.

“The fund will support a range of projects focused on developing new pathways and methods of teaching to support the participation of students from a diverse range of backgrounds. They will help students to develop individually, address student retention and support enhanced progression of students across higher education institutions. It is a real investment in our education system and in our students.

“I welcome the collaborative approach taken by institutions. The funding being announced today is part of an overall package of measures taken in recent budgets which means that investment in higher education has increased since 2016 by more than €250 million or 17% to more than €1.7 billion.”